Caedmon was a pioneer in the audiobook business, it was the first company to sell spoken work recordings to the public and has been called the "seed" of the audiobook industry. Caedmon was formed in New York in 1952 by college graduates Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney. Their first release was a collection of poems by Dylan Thomas as read by the author. The B-side contained A Child's Christmas in Wales which was added as an afterthought - the story was obscure and Thomas himself couldn't remember its title when asked what to use to fill up the LP's B-side - but this recording went on to become one of his most loved works, and launched Caedmon into a successful company. The original 1952 recording was a 2008 selection for the United States National Recording Registry, stating it is "credited with launching the audiobook industry in the United States".
The company went on to record other notable writers reading their own works, such as W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and many more. The label expanded further to encompass other types of spoken word recordings, including children's stories, speeches, plus English- and foreign-language classics. Theater performances were also staged for the label, starring either the Shakespeare Recording Society or the Theatre Recording Society, depending on the playwright. These performances included many famous actors and actresses, including Anthony Quayle, Claire Bloom, Richard Burton, Albert Finney, John Gielgud, Siobhán McKenna, Michael Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Felix Aylmer, Paul Scofield, Alec McCowen, Donald Pleasence, Ralph Richardson, Max Adrian and Maggie Smith among others. Other notable readers for the label included Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, and Louis Jourdan.
Raytheon, who also owned D. C. Heath and Company, bought Caedmon in 1971. Harper & Row (now HarperCollins) purchased the label in 1987.
None of these recordings have been renewed by HarperCollins or released on CD.
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